In-form Spanish star Rafa Cabrera Bello is looking to build on “the best season of his career”, featuring a stunning Ryder Cup debut.
Ryder Cup, Rafa Cabrera Bello was one of six European rookies at Hazeltine and went undefeated in a sensational debut, one of many highlights in the Spaniard’s best-ever season.
Currently World Number 26, the Spaniard has been drawn with four-time Major winner Ernie Els and World Number 10 Alex Noren for the first 36 holes. Cabrera Bello, 32, has a fine record at Doha Golf Club, finishing joint runner-up last year after third-place finishes in 2011 and 2014, and is among the favourites this week after his sensational 2016.
Despite not adding to his two European Tour titles, Cabrera Bello secured seven top-five finishes on the European Tour and PGA TOUR, tied for fifth in the Olympics, won 2½ points in his Ryder Cup debut and finished eighth on the Race to Dubai Rankings.
“It was the best year of my career and I was very happy with everything I accomplished. Now my goals are to keep improving and keep moving higher up the World Ranking,” said Cabrera Bello, who will also play on the PGA TOUR this year.
“I think I’m mentally more prepared and tougher, to withstand whatever happens on the course. I’m more aware of my swing and fitter and better prepared to perform more consistently throughout the full year.”
Now making his eighth straight appearance at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, Cabrera Bello is again seeking to emulate compatriots Sergio Garcia (2014) and Alvaro Quiros (2009) by becoming the third Spaniard to lift the Mother of Pearl Trophy. After European Tour wins in 2009 and 2012, he’s also desperate to add a third, especially after seven runner-up finishes.
“This would be a great chance to get the win. I’ve had some modest success on this course before. I’ve played good and I feel I’m currently hitting the ball good and performing good,” said Cabrera Bello, who last month teed off his 2017 European Tour season by finishing runner-up at the UBS Hong Kong Open, after leading for the first three days.
“I know I finished runner-up and have been up there contending many, many times, but not necessarily all those runner-up finishes give me a bitter taste. Some of them were great finishes to sneak a runner-up, and yes, others were where I was leading and I faded away. I just know if I keep putting myself in that position, it will happen.”
Other top contenders this week include two-time Major winner Martin Kaymer and English trio Chris Wood, the 2013 champion, his Ryder Cup teammate Andy Sullivan and Tommy Fleetwood, the new Race to Dubai Rankings leader following his victory in Abu Dhabi last week